Ex-senators to 2016 field: Show how you'll cut the debt

A pair of former senators on Thursday urged presidential candidates in the 2016 race to focus on developing budget plans that would reverse the nation’s debt.

Former Sens. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) spoke about the “First Budget” initiative in New Hampshire, the first state to hold a presidential primary next year.

“It is critically important that the upcoming presidential campaign focus on the debt in a serious manner so that our next president comes into office ready to take action," Gregg, who is a columnist for The Hill, said Thursday at the University of New Hampshire’s School of Law.

"New Hampshire residents have always taken seriously their responsibility as the first primary state, and they should press candidates to find out what they will do in their first budget as president to address the debt," he added.

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Gregg is a co-chairman of The Campaign to Fix the Debt, founded by Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.). The budget initiative is a joint effort between Fix the Debt and The Concord Coalition.

Bayh, a member of both groups, said rising debt in the coming years could hurt the nation's ability to invest.

“Our ability to fund education, healthcare, defense and all the other things we care about will really be undermined by rising deficits in the coming years,” he said.

“More and more of our tax dollars will go to simply paying interest on the federal debt, which is already quite high by historical standards. No generation of Americans has passed on this level of debt to future generations, and we shouldn’t be the first."

The 2016 presidential race is only starting to heat up. Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGroup launches campaign to 'Draft Beto' for 2020 White House bid Look out ‘losers’ — Trump focused on ‘winning’ The Memo: GOP frets as Trump shutdown looms MORE (R-Texas) is the only contender to officially launch his campaign so far. Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulMcConnell moves to force vote on Trump's counterterrorism nominee Overnight Defense: Senate bucks Trump with Yemen war vote, resolution calling crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi killing | House briefing on Saudi Arabia fails to move needle | Inhofe casts doubt on Space Force Lame-duck Congress should pass First Step Act MORE (R-Ky.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioFormer Florida elections official Snipes sues to be returned to job Look out ‘losers’ — Trump focused on ‘winning’ The Memo: GOP frets as Trump shutdown looms MORE (R-Fla.) are expected to jump in soon.